WATCH | ‘Yimincili!’ Mapimpi stunned as he receives spontaneous hero's welcome while shopping

Speaking to TimesLIVE Inathi Mekile, the cashier who assisted him, says Mapimpi is an inspiration to the people of East London.

20 October 2023 - 18:12
By SINESIPHO SCHRIEBER
Springboks winger Makazole Mapimpi thanking supporters during the 2023 Rugby World Cup against Romania at Stade de Bordeaux on September 17, 2023 in Bordeaux, France.
Image: Hans van der Valk/BSR Agency/Getty Images Springboks winger Makazole Mapimpi thanking supporters during the 2023 Rugby World Cup against Romania at Stade de Bordeaux on September 17, 2023 in Bordeaux, France.

With a bucket hat covering his face, Springboks winger Makazole Mapimpi could not escape the attention of staff and shoppers of a store in his hometown of East London, as he received a spontaneous hero’s welcome while buying groceries.

Mapimpi is back home recovering after suffering a cheekbone fracture and swollen eye during the Boks' 49-18 win against Tonga in the Rugby World Cup tournament in France.

What was supposed to be an ordinary grocery trip for him at Spar supermarket in the quiet Vincent suburb quickly turned into an emotional and unplanned welcome.

The Sharks wing was stunned as people gathered around him singing “nguMapimpi lona (meaning this is Mapimpi)” . He seemed amazed by the crowd at first but a few moments later joined them clapping his hands as they sang for him.

Speaking to TimesLIVE, Inathi Mekile, the cashier who assisted him, said Mapimpi was a regular shopper at the store but he was nervous when he assisted him because Mapimpi was his role model.

“I was very nervous and excited when I saw him coming to my till. He is very humble and started talking to me while I was helping him. I was so happy that he received such a welcome.

“When I see the videos, I cannot even explain how I feel. But I am happy we were able to give him that emotional welcome because we did not plan for it, it was something that just happened,” he said. 

Mekile said Mapimpi, who grew up in Mdantsane township, was an inspiration to him. 

“He motivates me a lot because he grew up under the same circumstances as us in Mdantsane and most of us do not have hope that we would ever make it out or make something better for ourselves.

“We see ourselves as being stuck but he showed us that a person can make it out of that environment by simply following his dreams,” Mekile said. 

Dorcas Dyalvin, the woman who packed Mapimpi’s groceries, could not contain her excitement when speaking to TimesLIVE on Friday. 

“He arrived and did his shopping, I then heard some commotion as one of the shoppers greeted him and asked to take pictures with him.

“We got excited and started singing for him. Makazole was very shy. He thanked us after we welcomed him. That was just us greeting him and being very thankful to see him in his home.”